General Synod to showcase Anglican artists

Published June 14, 2007

Welcoming, widening world by Garth C. Panting is part of the collection of 50 artworks – chosen from among 200 submissions – that expresses the synod theme Draw the Circle Wide, Draw It Wider Still.

Art will have a dramatically expanded presence at this General Synod, compared to previous gatherings – in plenary, at worship and at the display hall. The lucky high bidders at a silent auction that benefits various Anglican initiatives will be able to take home a piece of sculpture, a painting or a drawing.

Sacred Expressions is the title for a collection of 50 artworks – chosen from among 200 submissions – that expresses the synod theme Draw the Circle Wide, Draw It Wider Still.

“The 50 pieces will be shown on a big screen during worship. We aimed for a blend of professional and ‘naive’ or amateur artists. There is even a child’s work,” said Lisa Barry, senior producer of Anglican Video, who coordinated the project and was a member of the three-person jury that chose the works. (The other members were Rev. Donna Joy of St. George’s church, Winnipeg, who chaired the committee, and Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, national director of the Creative City Network of Canada.)

Synod delegates will receive a copy of a full-coluor catalogue of all the works, containing descriptions of the artists’ conceptions and contact information for some, since most of the works are for sale. The catalogue is for sale to non-delegates.

The six items in the silent auction, which will be shown in the display hall, include two sculptures, two drawings and two paintings. The sale will benefit the Anglican Appeal, Anglican Journal Appeal, the Sacred Arts Trust of the Anglican Foundation, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s HIV/AIDS work and the Indigenous Healing Fund.

About ten per cent of the 200 works submitted touched upon the church’s current debate over homosexuality, said Ms. Barry, but none from the conservative point of view. One colourful painting, Embracing Change, depicts people as tulips before a God that weeps because one segment of humanity is being denied the sacrament of marriage. One well-known Anglican artist, Rev. David Opheim, protested, on his Web site, the rejection of his submission, which showed two female stick figures and carried the words “Wider Circle? Lift the Ban” and referred to a not-always-followed church policy that gay clergy be celibate. Judges felt the piece was too much of a polemic, Ms. Barry said.

The artwork at synod will also include an installation in the display hall by Andrew Beck, set designer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The posts of a pergola, or open-sided shelter, will be painted in the four colours native people consider the colours of humanity – red, black, white and yellow. The peaked roof will be made from teepee poles and inside the shelter will hang a mobile of the different-sized balls that make up the General Synod 2007 logo, said Ms. Barry.

In a world where religious art has declined in prominence in the past few centuries, the range of spiritual expression in the show is startling. “The visual is such a strong part of our faith,” said Ms. Barry.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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